Reset Your Body
Integrating MindBody for Optimal Healing
It is not uncommon that individuals who struggle with persistent pain often feel betrayed and angry at their bodies for hurting all the time. With ongoing persistent pain, there is often a mistrust or tendency to not tune into or listen to the body.
Interoception is a felt sense of your body. It provides information about the internal condition of your body—how your body is feeling on the inside. Interceptive signals are projected to the brain via a diversity of neural pathways that allow for the sensory processing and prediction of internal bodily states.
Interesting fact - Your brain “reads” everything going on in your body 30 times a second for your entire life.
Research has demonstrated that people in persistent pain exhibit lower interoceptive accuracy than healthy controls. Altered interoception skills then create a disconnect between your MindBody connection. Then you end up not “listening” to the quieter cues your body is giving you. This tuning into your interceptive signals is essential to master the activity/rest cycle or pacing that is critical in navigating persistent pain.
Remember that Hurt ≠ Harm
As you begin to have a more subtle awareness of your body, it is fundamental that you discern the difference between hurt and harm. Since, the nervous system is often oversensitized in persistent pain patterns, you will be experiencing hurt even when there is no harm being done to the musculoskeletal of your body. The take home message here is that you will need to let go of or at least “suspend” certain beliefs and thoughts you may have acquired from your journey with persistent pain.
Reminder: Central sensitization is a condition of the nervous system that is associated with the development and maintenance of persistent pain. When central sensitization occurs, the nervous system is in a persistent state of high reactivity.
Reminder: As our realization of the intense neuroplasticity of our minds continues to be discovered, many old systems of beliefs will need to be shifted. The Human brain needs to be understood in light of new and innovative discoveries and experiences.
One possible and common belief is that the spine is delicate and easily injured. When the fact is that the spine, and it's surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments compose a well-designed structure that is incredibly strong, flexible and supportive.
It is important for anyone in pain to understand that when we move while we are in a fear mode (think braced body, grimace on face), we are further entrenching the pathway
of pain in our mindbody. We are also disregarding the cues our interoceptive sense is feeding us. To start navigating this differently, you will need to learn how to navigate your fear response so that you can turn off the danger signal before moving your body. This practice of calm movement creates new pathways of pain-free or more fluid movement.
Simple ≠ Easy
Sound hard? It’s actually quite a simple concept, but it is not easy because it takes vigilant awareness of your body and emotions, as well as consistency and discipline in your practice.
Experiments to try:
~ Build interoceptive skills; practice moving from the inside out
~ Before moving, take a deep, slow breath. Soften your belly and bring your attention into the present moment.
~ If any movement causes pain, try visualizing yourself making the movement before making the movement. In the visualization, ensure that the movement is fluid and pain-free.
~Say to yourself, “I am in pain AND I am safe” to convince your mind that the danger signal does not need to be sounded.